What can your toenails reveal about your health?

toenailRisk factors for prostate cancer include age, race/ethnicity, family history, genetic changes and mutations, diet, obesity, smoking, chemical exposure, inflammation of the prostate, sexually transmitted disease, and undergoing a vasectomy.

Researchers have been focusing on chemical exposure and its link to prostate cancer as of late. To dig deeper and obtain further insight, the latest research study involved the collection of over 32,000 toenail clippings.


The Canadian researchers are examining the toenail clippings of nearly 150 men with prostate cancer and comparing them to men without prostate cancer.

Researcher Dr. Jong Sung Kim explained, “We’re going to use toenail samples as an indicator of risk factors specifically related to environmental exposure to heavy metals in development of prostate cancer.”

The researchers are trying to detect cadmium and arsenic, and nails are a good storage area for these chemicals.
Fellow researcher Dr. Anil Adidesh added, “All of us get some exposure to these metals in day-to-day life through food, soil, water, but also through work. Quite often, work exposures are some of the more significant exposures people can get.”

Researchers are hoping to expand on previous research in this area conducted by Italian scientists, which found an increased risk of prostate cancer from exposure to cadmium.


The team from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia are working together for the study. They are hopeful that their findings will qualify them to provide recommendations on environmental exposures to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

The research is expected to take place over the next couple of years.

Related: Plant-based chemicals found in our food prevent prostate cancer


Related Reading:

4 factors that increase your risk of prostate cancer

Elevated cholesterol, triglycerides increase prostate cancer recurrence risk: Study